Travel Awards

Asia’s Best City for Art and Culture

The winner and shortlist for Asia’s best city for art and culture in the 2019 Marco Polo Club Members' Choice Awards are rich in heritage sites, galleries, museums and live music venues

Asia’s Best City for Art and Culture

Winner: Kyoto

For the second year in a row, your votes have put Kyoto on top. Whether you’re looking for storied heritage or contemporary arts and culture, Kyoto has it all – from kabuki and noh theatre to tea ceremonies, 17 World Heritage sites and museums, and a burgeoning contemporary art movement.

‘The cultural heart of Japan. The kimono, traditional tie-dying, calligraphy: Kyoto is the innovator and its traditions transcend time. There are fabulous museums and art galleries, famous temples and shrines, and a lively music scene with plenty of intimate venues.’ –Alison Gilmore, international business development professional and part of our panel of travel experts

Asia’s Best City for Art and Culture Shortlist


China’s Beijing-based Emperors long patronised the arts, many of which continue to thrive, from Chinese painting and Beijing opera to kung fu, acrobatics and tea ceremonies. There’s also an exciting contemporary art scene and plenty of museums.


Thai culture comes to the fore in the capital, with a wealth of temples – or wats – traditional museums and classical Thai dance performances. Then there’s Muay Thai, the Thai silk heritage and a growing contemporary art scene.

Hong Kong

Home to numerous fairs and festivals, Hong Kong supports both Asian and international arts and culture. There’s also a growing local creative scene, supported in part by PMQ, Tai Kwun and the developing West Kowloon Cultural District.


Shaoxing opera and the late 19th and early 20th century architecture of The Bund take visitors to Shanghai back in time, while the West Bund Cultural Corridor’s museums and galleries reveal an exciting contemporary art and creative scene.


Distinctive creative parks offer insight into Taipei’s art and design scene today, while indigenous arts feature in the city’s numerous museums. Theatre, music of all genres and dance companies also thrive and this year saw Taipei Dangdai art fair launch.


Museums take visitors through Japan’s artistic past, and there’s plenty for contemporary art and design lovers, too – the city overflows with outstanding architecture. There’s also a rich animation scene, sumo and the popular teamLAB Borderless.


Museums, performing arts and dance festivals, Changgeuk opera, traditional tea culture, Ihwa Mural Village and a wealth of contemporary art galleries – the culture vulture won’t be at a loss in Seoul.


The Philippines’ varied history has resulted in a diverse arts and cultural scene, visible through its capital’s galleries and museums for natural and cultural heritage. Manila is also home to a burgeoning market for Asian contemporary art.

Cathay Travell Book


Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
Discovery Book Silkroad Book